Wouldn't Change A Thing
Have you ever dreamed of running away and joining the circus?
At age twenty-four, my childhood fantasy came true when I seized the
opportunity to do just that. Every morning when I woke up, I marveled at
my blessings. "People aren't supposed to be this happy when they grow up,
It all started one hot August night when a skydiving buddy invited me
to try trapeze at a local YMCA. The first time that I stood high above the
floor on a small wooden pedestal, wrapped my fingers around a freshly taped
"fly-bar" and swung out over a giant net, I was hooked! This led to a
five-year love affair with the circus.
Occasionally, a sight or sound or smell catapults me back to the days
when my husband, Gary, and I trooped with the circus.
Last night, while rummaging through some papers, I unearthed an old
photo of us. Grinning like crazy, we stood side by side wearing matching
burgundy costumes. My thoughts immediately swung back to the first time I
wore this outfit in performance.
It was opening night at my first Shrine Circus. While waiting for the
show to begin, I shyly peeked out at all the people crowded into the
darkened coliseum. Even my butterflies had butterflies!
After finishing our first season, Gary was back home in Texas. I had
agreed to fill in to help out a fellow performer, Carlos, on a three-day
"spot date" performing in Rochester, New York.
The last note from a twelve-piece band lingered as the ringmaster's
deep baritone boomed over the mike.
"Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages!"
During his introduction, snarling tigers were pacing back and forth in
a long row of cages stretching out from center ring. Backstage, elephants
were trumpeting and skittish ponies were prancing, impatient for their
debut. Concessionaires swarmed all over the place.
"Cotton candy! Snow cones! Get your ice-cold snow cones here!"
The smell of elephants mingled with the sticky-sweet aroma of cotton
candy, drew me back to my childhood. But on this special night, instead of
feeling the disappointment of merely watching from the sidelines, I would
While Carlos began carrying the perch equipment out to ring three, I
relived the crash course he and his wife had given me the previous week in
Perch Acts 101. Watching Carlos and Brenda, the young woman they'd hired,
performing the act three times a day, five days a week during our entire
first season, I'd found myself picturing how easy the act would be. How
graceful I would look.
I was wrong!
Looking on, while Brenda had effortlessly climbed a pole balanced on
Carlos' shoulders to do various poses twenty-five feet above the ground,
and doing it myself, were two different things!
Carlos' voice jolted me back to the here and now. "Are you ready?
We're on after the clowns." It was show time!
Mentally rehearsing the routine one last time, I hoped all eyes would
stay glued to the aerial act above center ring. During the announcement,
Carlos and I parked our bathrobes we wore over our circus costumes on a
chair in the corner. He reached for my hand. Next thing I knew, we were
sailing out to greet the audience. Our audience! The rhinestones on my
new costume sparkled under the brilliant lights flooding the arena.
Magically, the routine unfolded like clockwork and all too soon we
were taking final bows. I couldn't wait to do this again! Twenty-one
years later, I can still recall the breathtaking sensation I felt that
night performing for a sellout crowd in a gigantic coliseum.
Many changes have taken place since then -- a broken neck, a shattered
career, a crumbled marriage, three suicide attempts and a relationship with
my new found ringmaster, Jesus Christ, who has given me a burning desire to
live and a passion to write.
Every morning when I wake up I still marvel at my blessings.
"Quadriplegics aren't supposed to have this much joy, are they?"
How many people do you know who've seized the opportunity to pour
their hearts and souls into two exciting careers that they absolutely
cherish? Viewing life these days from bellybutton level, I wouldn't change
[ Vickie Baker (firstname.lastname@example.org) -- from 'Heartwarmers' ]
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